The IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) requires end-to-end machine and device networking between headquarters, the edge of the network, the cloud, and mobile endpoints. 4G LTE and 5G standards are the basis for supplementing and replacing wired solutions. They are also the basis for software-defined WANs (SD-WANs) at the so-called edge. Integrating SD-WAN into modern company infrastructures means a fusion of classic information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) can be implemented.
IT/OT convergence is also the basis for Industry 4.0, i.e., real-time industrial networking with process control and monitoring of physical machines and industrial systems at the network’s edge via the cloud. With SD-WANs comes the consolidation of multiple WAN links. Hardware and operating costs for connecting the network’s edge can be significantly reduced, and agility increases. Accompanying this, cloud management facilitates the deployment and management of network devices. However, new requirements for the availability and security of these connections must be redefined.
IIoT Over Wireless WANs
The manufacturing industry is one of the adopters of the IIoT, mainly because the technology enables a variety of efficiencies. With IIoT over wireless WAN, assets can be managed remotely, monitored in real-time, and maintained proactively. It is easier to track product condition, location, and status. Building on this capability, wireless edge solutions add cellular connectivity as a connectivity option. The IIoT includes a range of technologies, such as new sensors, applications, machine-to-machine communication, machine learning, predictive analysis, geo-localization, wearable connected things, and computer-aided augmented reality perception (augmented reality).
From 4G LTE To 5G – Campus Networks In Transition
5G technology offers an increase in bandwidth and several new features and use cases. 5G offers extremely low latencies and enables new applications that depend on faster response times. Improved antenna and transmission techniques are massively increasing the number of devices a 5G station can handle. This makes wireless support for IoT networks and other high-density applications a reality.
As gigabit-class LTE is now widely available and most operators are rolling out 5G services, it is becoming more accessible and easier to deploy a network anytime, anywhere, based on a business’s needs. 5G is an essential enabler for modernizing production and control processes. For example, in many cases, TSN environments (Time Sensitive Networking) can only be implemented via 5G. They lead to cross-manufacturer and cross-platform networking and consistent end-to-end real-time communication. The Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology IPT and several mechanical engineering, robotics, and network technology providers have jointly developed a communication infrastructure for sensors and actuators up to the cloud. It supports the precise control of a robot during operation via the cloud.
This way, highly dynamic production systems robots can be controlled adaptively without being directly connected. In addition, 5G allows the construction of private networks inaccessible to the public. They significantly gain performance, data protection, and network security. 5G thus lays the foundation for secure communication between different machines and systems, robots and components – from sensors and actuators to the cloud.
New Possibilities With SD-WANs
Wireless SD-WANs solve numerous problems for enterprise networks, create new opportunities, and lay the foundation for further change and innovation.
Improving Network Failover
Related businesses experience reduced downtime and maintenance costs, increased production, improved workplace security, and generally better visibility into what’s happening in their operations. Predictive maintenance also offers aspects of the availability of production facilities. Higher bandwidth connections, such as gigabit-class LTE and 5G, can create a failover of all traffic. This is much quicker than waiting for a new line or alternative service provider to be installed.
Increased Network Bandwidth
In mobile networked edge scenarios, latency times are a disruptive factor and an exclusion criterion. The amount of data to be processed will significantly increase in the future, for example, due to the increasing use of more data-intensive sensors, such as vibration or image sensors. After local aggregation, this data must be sent to the cloud for further processing. Accordingly, edge networking requires the highest bandwidth from a wireless WAN infrastructure.
However, compared to wired infrastructures, these offer much greater flexibility to provide them permanently or selectively. A significant advantage of SD-WAN is the simultaneous aggregation of multiple connections to increase bandwidth. With the increasing availability and capacity of wireless connections, numerous opportunities exist to add new services quickly. This applies to the rapid integration of new production sites into the existing company organization with its processes, development, production, and logistics processes.
Wireless WAN Is The New Industry Standard
Regarding introducing 5G, the manufacturing industry is still in the conception and planning phase: Only 30 percent of industrial companies worldwide are testing the use of 5G or are already more advanced. This is the conclusion reached by the Capgemini Research Institute in the study “Accelerating the 5G Industrial Revolution: State of 5G and edge in industrial operations”. Many wireless WANs are still based on 4G LTE as the standard. Nevertheless, development is progressing. According to IDC, SD-WAN revenue grew 18.5 percent globally from 2019 to 2020.
Analysts are forecasting annual growth of 18.9 percent through 2025 when total SD-WAN revenues are expected to reach $7 billion. Established network providers such as Cisco, Citrix, Fortinet, HPE/Silverpeak, Huawei, Juniper, Riverbed, and VMware offer 5G infrastructures and components. New providers are increasingly entering the market, such as Aryaka, Cato Networks, or Cradlepoint. Numerous other business scenarios are conceivable where a wired solution is not viable. For example, business locations with short to medium-term use or those without a building structure, such as construction sites, pop-up stores, or outdoor markets, are conceivable. 5G will play a crucial role in this.
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